Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks at the value of vintage clothing...
Following on from last week when I started to talk about ladies accessories, this week I am going to look at vintage clothing.
Apart from handbags and shoes, gloves, too, are popular with collectors. Originally worn to prevent touching hands, rather than for warmth, gloves were widely worn throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and soon became an essential fashion accessory. Made from leather, silk or cotton, long gloves were held in place above the elbow with ribbon or plaited horsehair and they were often beautifully decorated with lace or embroidery.
The pleasure of collecting accessories is the fact that many pieces can still be used. Pretty gloves and decorative Edwardian bags are timeless
Modern collectables are less delicate and feminine! In the last decade, there has been a surge in interest amongst clothing collectors for denim – a 1930s Levi denim jacket could sell for thousands of pounds! Apart from nostalgia, old denim is valuable because of its rarity. Since denim was used for producing work clothes for labourers, they were worn until they fell apart.
Finally – it’s hard to believe but there are more people than you think that collect underwear. We’re not talking about pretty little camisoles either. The oldest underwear was made purely for warmth and during the 16th century this meant it was produced from sacking! In richer families the “chemise”, as it was known, was made from cotton and had a drawstring fastener at the top. These were worn by both men and women, as well as children, who were sometimes sewn into them in November and cut out in spring!
Knickers were not worn generally until the turn of the 18th century. The fashion of the time was high waisted dresses in daring almost transparent muslin. If a girl was to protect her honour,
underwear was essential. As you would expect, these knickers (also known as pantaloons or drawers) were suitably long legged and continued to be worn up until the beginning of the 20th Century. (A pair of Victorian cotton bloomers would be worth £20).
Old and antique underclothing is a fascinating subject. Whilst you may not be keen on wearing someone else’s drawers, a pretty Victorian garter would definitely be a beautifully “old” item for a modern bride.